It is frustrating when…after a night of sleep loss (because the little one climbs in bed at 3am) followed by a day of working, running errands, doing laundry, and paying for dance and baseball…your child immediately talks back when you make a simple request.
There are sooo many factors to why a child argues AND so many possibilities for what you can do about it.
Because I emphasize keeping a healthy relationship between parents and children, these guidelines will help you to address the arguing problem with respect and love for your little one. The following strategies will keep your child’s self-esteem intact while asserting your authority and increasing their respect for you.
By the end of this article, you’ll have more understanding of this arguing thing and some practical tips you can implement today to end the battle.
If by the end of this article you think to yourself, “Wow. I’ve tried all of this and don’t think any of it will work! What do I do?!” rest assured that you are not alone. This is where professional help becomes necessary.
Child mental health professionals are specifically trained to work with challenging behaviors like constant arguing.
With that being said, let’s learn what to do when your child won’t stop arguing.
Here are some other quick and practical tips for dealing with your child who argues:
- Use small punishments, something you can stick to. Prepare beforehand what will work for you and your child. Some examples may include time out (minutes=their age in years, i.e. two-year-old gets two minutes in time out. Hint: use the timer on your phone!) taking the tablet for the evening, reduced TV time, or no dessert.
- Talk with your child when things are calm. Discuss the ongoing problem and consequences they can expect BEFORE the next argument breaks out. I call this providing anticipatory guidance. It tampers the battle that may come when you have to deliver a punishment later.
- Separate your child from the behavior. Remember to talk about their disrespectful behavior instead of calling them a disrespectful child. Sometimes kids become who others say they are. Plus, no one likes to be called names! Imagine how you’d feel if your boss called you a “lazy employee”… ouch! And a boss is not nearly as significant as a parent. Children are little humans.
- Reward cooperation when it does happen. Sometimes it helps to look for those little things your child DOES do without hesitation. Keep an eye out. You’ll feel much better (as a parent and on a daily basis) if you stop focusing only on the problem.
Try just ONE of these simple strategies this week, and leave a comment with your results.
Then continue on to Part 2 when you're ready to look more closely at the arguing issue and your part in it.
…or jump ahead!
Part 3 gives the exact steps to take when your child starts to argue.